Incoming Education and Information students are encouraged to change the world with teaching, research, and providing access to knowledge for all.
On Sept. 27, the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies opened the 2017-18 school year with its annual Convocation in Moore Hall. This fall, 904 graduate students in the UCLA Department of Education and Department of Information Studies begin their journey toward advanced degrees, including 126 new teaching candidates in the Teacher Education Program (TEP) and 34 education leaders in the Principal Leadership Institute.
Wasserman Dean Marcelo Suárez-Orozco welcomed the assembled students with the history of UCLA’s origins as the State Normal School, devoted to training teachers, and underscored the significance of UCLA Ed & IS in the University.
“Education and information are more important today than ever before,” said Suárez-Orozco. “With the growth of unseen levels of inequality, education and information emerge as indispensable tools for social justice. As we become the first-ever minority majority, high-income country in the world, without a bright education and information future for our evermore diverse population, there is no bright American future.”
Suárez-Orozco addressed the issue of sanctuary in the face of threats to DACA and immigrants with a heartfelt, “Mi casa es su casa,” extended to all groups of underserved students, including all immigrants, documented or not, and other marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ community. He also encouraged students to get to know people unlike themselves in background and academic objectives. He stated that Los Angeles is the world’s largest “second city” with the second largest population for nations worldwide.
“We are the other Armenia, the other Cambodia, the other Korea, the other Vietnam, the other Guatemala, the other El Salvador, the other Mexico,” said Suárez-Orozco. “So, get to know someone from somewhere else. It will enrich your journey. This is your time to explore.”
Jonathan Furner, professor and chair of UCLA’s Department of Information Studies, spoke on the value of an advanced degree from the department’s programs which prepare students for a variety of careers within the information fields.
“You’re going to be providing your visitors, readers, or clients with a level and quality of access to information to which they have a basic human right,” he said. “Or, you’ll be caring for and preserving treasured evidence of your nation’s cultural heritage. The list of opportunities is pretty much limitless.”
Christina “Tina” Christie, who serves as chair of UCLA Education, delineated the reasons that students aspire to careers in education and research.
“Education should be a tool for promoting justice,” she said. “And educational research should ground and inspire what we do.
“You are the next generation of scholars and your work as educators and educational researchers is so critical as we come together to ensure that all students are positioned to achieve their dreams.”
Professor of Education Tyrone Howard, who represents the Graduate School at UCLA as Associate Dean for Equity & Inclusion, thanked students for choosing UCLA Ed & IS.
“We recognize that you have lots of different options of where you can pursue your education,” he said. “And that’s important to us because you make us better. We grow intellectually, we grow personally by having you here.
“Our expectations of you are very simple. We ask that you come here and that you bring your authentic selves. There’s a reason why you are all here – because we thought you were phenomenal. We thought you brought compassion, discipline, the work ethic to be the best you could be. We want to be part of that experience.”
Howard underscored the need for educators and information professionals to approach their work “in a manner that is full of thoughtfulness, that is full of care, that is full of compassion, that is full of love.
“No matter what program you are in … this work that you do, we ask that you do it with the utmost amount of care… free of racism, sexism, free of Islamophobia, homophobia, and xenophobia. We ask that you do this in a way that is inclusive and respectful of individuals regardless of their backgrounds.
“There are communities, there are families, there are children who are depending on all of us in this room to make this world better,” Howard said. “We can do that with our minds but I think we can do it better with our hearts and minds.”
Above: Wasserman Dean Marcelo Suárez-Orozco sports a “#firstgenerationcollegegraduate” tee-shirt in support of students at UCLA Ed & IS.